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So Long Suckers

Jandamarra at the Opera House

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The Yilimbirri Junba is a dance and a song story about two rainbow serpents, or Ungguds. It was given to a Bunuba elder, Adam Andrews, in a dream brought to him by the ray, the spirits of the Bunuba world.

The junba does not easily translate in a word for word way. It uses a number of languages that the rayi speak, including Bunuba, Ngarinyin, Gooniyandi and Walmajarri. It evokes the story, rather than tells it in a literal way; with the story also being illustrated by the dancers, and told by the singers in the course of the performance.

The junba touches on the story of Jandamarra. With the participation and agreement of the Andrews family, Bunuba Films (now BCE) uses the theme of Jandamarra and Yilimbirri Unggud as a central element of the Jandamarra stage play, with lead singer George Brooking and the cast singing verses from the junba selected by the family as part of the play.

This is the story that Adam Andrews would tell with the junba, as remembered by June Oscar and Patsy Bedford:

This junba came to me in a dream from the ray. The Unggud snakes looked after the country and the main waterholes that were made in the Ngarranggani (the Creation time). You canít mess around in those places. You must respect them; follow the rules the Ungguds made. If you donít follow the rules, you can get hurt, or a big rain might come and hunt you out. Youíll see, the clouds will come from nowhere, bringing rain. Thatís why weíve got to look after all our country.

Yilimbirri Spring dried up when all the fighting was going on with Jandamarra. All the ray carried that Unggud away to Iminyji, where he stopped with the Unggud there. When everything settled down, the ray went and called to him, and brought that Unggud back.

When they were coming back, the ray took him through Winyjiwi (Mount Rose), and Manaliyan (Mount House), and Gululu (Milliwindie). Near Dimond Gorge (Jiyjidgi) some kids were mucking around at the waterhole, and the Unggud there made a big whirlwind (jula).

The ray and Yilimbirri Unggud saw the hill kangaroo (walambayi) eating black plums (giyindi). They travelled through the mountains, and across the black soil plains (galanganyja).

The ray took him to Jinjinarra, and then on to Yilimbirri, where they left him there on top. And then the ray went to Jandamarra at Limalurru where he was lying down surrounded by soldiers (jaulja).

I train all these Bunuba kids to dance this junba so they can know the story for this country, and carry their culture on.

Hear George Brooking singing a verse from the Yilimbirri Junba in the play.

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